Reading and Knitting: big worlds, cabled sweaters, and Taylor Swift

At some point in September, I was on the Lionbrand website looking at different challenging sweaters to make. I could do a color-worked sweater or a cable knit sweater. I could start another top-down sweater or try my hand at pieces that I would need to sew together. The options for sweaters were endless, but then something caught my eye. It was a little white cardigan with a dark stripe detail and tons and tons of cables. It’s affectionately called The Folklore Sweater.

Now, the reason why it’s called The Folklore Sweater is because it’s a design based off the cardigan in Taylor Swift’s cardigan music video. Here’s a reference to that here:

While I originally watched the video when it first came out, the cardigan in it didn’t impact me as much as the rest of the video did. But then, Taylor Swift was selling similar cardigans on her website. Looking at the ticket price of $50 USD, I thought to myself that I could try and make this cardigan for myself and save a little bit of money. It looked so cozy and comforting when Taylor Swift wore it and the photo of the person modeling the cardigan looked to enjoy it too. So why not make this cardigan?

After I received the materials, I tried my hand on creating it. Like I always do when I start a project, I first created a swatch to match the gauge. However, I must have gotten my wires crossed or missed something because after I made my swatch, my finished cardigan came out a little differently. Now, there’s nothing wrong with not gauging your work, but as even Michelle Obama has learned during her knitting trials, gauge is super important to make sure your knitted project actually fits. Imagine taking all the time that it takes to make a unique sweater only to realize after you’re done that it doesn’t fit. That’s where gauge comes in. You make this swatch to ensure that when you’re done, your piece will actually fit. Because everyone knits differently, this trick helps in the long run.

After starting the back of the cardigan, I already noticed I was in over my head. OMG, I guess when the pattern said “Intermediate” level knitter, I wasn’t expecting it to be like this. When you look at the back of the cardigan, you can see that there is a lot of intricate work on it. Each of those bands are called cables and they each had their own pattern. So when you’re working on the pattern, you’re repeating those steps to the length that’s required. But each of these cables had their own pattern, so it was massively exhausting to remember to twist every 3rd row or twist every 6th row. The middle diamonds were even harder. Not only was I twisting my stitches, but I was also working a pattern for the middle of the diamonds. I honestly thought my head was going to explode. I was also worried I wouldn’t be able to listen to books while I made this piece because it required so much concentration!

But after a while, the pattern started to be more repetitive and I could easily remember to twist the stitches when I needed to. But it was that initial hurdle I had to jump. I had to push myself beyond the confusion and constant counting in my head before I could nearly do this blindfolded. The back is probably the biggest hurdle on this sweater because it’s the first part you have to work on. After that, the front pieces and the sleeves were much easier to make.

As I was finishing up the sleeves, I was looking at the pieces individually and thinking about how I’m not liking it. The ribbing looked off. I messed up one of the eight cables on the back. I didn’t like how sloppy it was coming out. The yarn itself was scratchy and actually made my fingers ache to keep tension. I frogged (took apart) my project three times and started over. There were even problems with the rest of the cardigan. The sleeves don’t match. The design is wonky on the back and the front. If you look closely at the sweater, there are several different flaws.

This was also my first sweater I had in pieces and had to sew together. I’m still working on learning how to sew sweaters together, but that along with blocking the pieces separately were probably the most clueless I felt about the entire thing.

But at the same time, as I was putting this sweater together and trying it on for the first time, I couldn’t stop loving it. OMG the moment I put my arms through the sleeves and finally felt the pieces of this sweater, it actually became a comfort I couldn’t take off. Like I mentioned before, I somehow messed up the sizing, but the sleeves fit, the back fit, everything fit! All my worries about it not fitting me were out the window and now I have a beautiful cardigan to wear on the cooler days in Southern California.

My biggest takeaway is that I’m a little too hard on myself. While I can complain about how many times I had to restart a sleeve or how confused I felt while blocking and sewing the pieces together, in the end, the cardigan came out beautifully. My biggest learn is that my focus is on the wrong things. Instead of finding the faults and punishing myself for doing a bad job, I should be happy with the end results and see these flaws as a unique quality to the piece. It’s not perfect, but neither am I and I’m okay with it. Because in the end, no one is going to see the flaws like I do. They’ll see a wonderfully hand-knit sweater that reminds them a little bit of that one Taylor Swift song.

Books Read

Of course there was a few books keeping me company as I made this sweater. I traveled back in time on a cruise through Egypt. I traveled to alternate forms of London. I even went back to Brooklyn to hear the horrors of gentrifying small neighborhoods. I even returned to the Shattered Plains. All of these books were such a comfort to me while I made my cardigan. I will say the only regret I have is listening to Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson. I loved the book, but I needed more focus to read it. I was talking to a friend after reading it and he pointed out some big component of the story that I somehow overlooked. I love reading audiobooks, but I might have to keep my bigger fantasy reads to actual books.

9 thoughts on “Reading and Knitting: big worlds, cabled sweaters, and Taylor Swift

  1. This cardigan is gorgeous!!! And it is quite complicated, I would not tag it “intermediate”!
    How long did it take you to finish it? Did you order the pattern (detailed instructions) also from the lionbrand website?

    I’m now working on my first cardigan – a very simple one, only knit stitches. I have the back and one front panel ready , still need to do the other front panel and the sleeves. My biggest challenge is with the size – the initial pattern was for S and I need XS, so I improvise a bit 🙂 I’m still learning how to work better with gauge, will be interesting when I’ll knit my first slim fit item.

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    1. It took me a very long time to finish this one. I think about two months? I took a break in the middle too because the cabling work was so exhausting. I would say that the pattern gets easier as you work it, but at the beginning it was such a stressful mess. I got the pattern from the lionbrand website for free and just picked out the colors from the yarn they suggested. A link to the cardigan is at the top of the post.

      I’m so excited for you to work your first cardigan!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love that cardigan omg!!! I just started knitting and can barely do a purl stitch so I think I’m going to have to put this one away for later, but it’s so cute and now I have a goal!! So gorgeous 🥰

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  3. Congrats on finishing your cardigan! That’s so impressive! 😍
    I haven’t really ventured further than scarves, but I love trying new patterns! I can only imagine how challenging a cardigan would be so I am in awe of this! 😊

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  4. You did a great job on that cardigan! My daughter wants me to make this pattern for her as a birthday present. This is exactly the fit that she’s looking for. Did you use the recommended Wool-Ease yarn? What size did you make? Thank you in advance. Again – awesome job!

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  5. Hey! I just found this pattern and want to try this sweater (after I finish the one I’m already working on, of course!). I love the colours you chose; did you use Lion brand yarn? What are the names of the colours you chose?

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